ABOVE Home Remedies client Cathy Roach layered linen curtains over sheer shades in her bedroom.
Five years ago, Cathy Roach moved from Philadelphia to Portland on a trial basis, to see if it was a good fit for her retirement. While staying in a short-term rental, she ventured into the city’s Home Remedies, a full-service furniture and design studio filled with eclectic, largely neutral pieces. Roach, whose style skews a bit more bold — her living room has a hot-pink velvet sofa and wool zebra-print rug — figured she’d just poke around a little. Then, owner Rachel Ambrose approached her and said, “You look new.”
The two immediately bonded over their love of high-quality fabrics, and Ambrose recommended a Realtor who found Roach an Old Port condo. The only downside was that it was still under construction, which made planning décor tricky. But Roach knew she needed to start with shades. And the construction zone didn’t intimidate Ambrose. “She said, ‘Don’t worry, I’ll get in there and measure. By the time you have a closing, you’ll have shades,’” Roach says. She selected Hunter Douglas sheer Silhouette shades in creamy white for her living room and bedroom, and Ambrose made good on her promise — when Roach moved in, she had her shades.
After living in the condo for a few years, Roach was ready to choose curtains. “I didn’t want to rush because drapes are a big investment,” she says. “Now, I look back at pictures of when it was just the shades and it’s not as warm.” Ambrose invited Roach into her Portland home to talk through options, using her own draperies as examples. “Her knowledge of window treatments was clear, and she was very involved in helping me make selections,” Roach says.
For her living space, Roach wanted sheer, flowy fabric that skims the floor and, with Ambrose’s help, she opted for snowy Thibaut panels. For her bedroom, she envisioned blush-pink drapes that land in a puddle, like the Kravet linen ones she ended up with. “Given my modern, edgy furniture and animal rugs, I wanted to go neutral with my drapes,” says Roach, who’s already contemplating her next Home Remedies project. “My hot-pink couch probably needs reupholstery — maybe I’ll do that next.”
Here’s how Ambrose helps clients like Roach get the hang of choosing window treatments.
Let windows lead the design.
When moving into a new place or redesigning a room, shades are an obvious starting point. “In order to not get woken up at 4 a.m. in the summer, you’re going to need to cover that window,” Ambrose says. She also recommends selecting drapery fabrics early in the design process, preferably before painting a room. “There are a million paint colors, and matching a fabric to one you’ve already picked can be hard,” she says. Let stunning curtain panels, which give a room a layered, finished look, inspire your wall color instead.
Consider function first.
“Do you need window treatments for privacy? Light control? Or are you dressing the window to harmonize with the rest of the room? Those needs are very important,” Ambrose says. She often recommends light-filtering fabrics for living spaces and baths and blackout linings for bedrooms. While all window treatments provide some insulation, insulated cellular shades can reduce heat loss by 40 percent or more in winter and heat gain by up to 60 percent in summer, making them the best choice for drafty windows.
Size up styles.
Are you looking for architectural treatments, like interior shutters or wooden blinds? Or do you prefer something soft, such as fabric Roman or roller shades? Are you drawn to drapes that hang just above the floor for a tailored look, or gather on the floor for a romantic vibe? Shades and drapes can be mounted inside or outside a window frame. The former keeps beautiful moldings, and decorative fabric trim, visible, while the latter can help mismatched window sizes, common in quirky old Maine homes, appear more uniform.
Trust the experts.
“I like when people come in with a picture of their windows,” Ambrose says. “I can immediately rule things out and tell them what I think they should have.” She and her team also help clients avoid pitfalls, like installing cordless shades in spots where they can’t reach to pull them down or mounting pricey drapes on flimsy spring rods that can collapse. Beyond candid design advice, the Home Remedies team provides professional measuring and installation, guaranteeing your windows get the dressing they deserve.